TAB Rebates & How To Get The Best Odds

Parimutuel Betting, or the Tote, is a common way to bet in Australia. It’s available on horse, harness and greyhound racing. We’re all vaguely familiar with how it works but let’s deep dive into the percentages and try to find an opportunity, including investigating rebates.


What is Tote Betting?

Betting into a Tote market pools your bets with other punters. The betting amounts proportionately influence the dividends. So the more money wagered on a particular horse, trotter or greyhound, the lower the odds of that selection. The same applies to exotic tote bets on trifectas, first-fours, quadrellas etc.

In Australia, we have three tote pools. They are the NSW and Super (Victorian) which are managed by the TAB and the Uni Tab which is managed by UBET (formerly Tatts) in Queensland.


How much margin do they take out?

Tote pool margins vary depending on the type of bet and on the location of the race meet. The NSW and Super pools are roughly 14.25-18%, with higher margins for overseas racing. They also charge up to 25% for exotics. UBET, on the other hand, takes roughly 15% out of win and place pools and up to 25% out of exotic markets.


Can You Improve Your Tote Dividends?

One of the reasons that online bookmakers have grown exponentially over the last ten years is because they offer a more competitive product compared to the TABs, particularly on tote products. All online bookies offer best tote horse racing, unless your winning account has been restricted. Plus harness and greyhound racing is usually middle tote or better. This provides peace of mind for the punter who isn’t at risk of betting into the exclusive tote pool that pays the worst.

However, the best tote product with corporate bookmakers is still marginated. This figure roughly pays out at 108% on horse racing when you average out the three TAB dividends. That figure is an improvement on singular tote pool margins but it’s tremendously hard to overcome that deduction over the long term.


What about Rebates?

The TABs do offer rebates to loyal punters. It’s a way to incentivise turnover, increase their pools and reward loyalty. However, to be eligible for such an agreement could require huge volumes of turnover. You may need to be a large betting syndicate or one of Australia’s biggest punters to get a percentage of your turnover returned.

Additionally, the negotiated rebate rates may not have a significant impact on eliminating margin. If you’re able to negotiate a 4% rebate, which would be excessively generous from the TAB, you would still be paying a 10.25% margin on Australian horse racing. That’s more than the 8% average that a client can achieve with an online bookmaker’s best tote product.


So what is the best option?

Fixed price products are soaring in popularity as many punters would rather lock in their odds instead of nervously waiting until after the race to know their dividend.

The margins are normally better too. Fixed price markets with the TABs and corporate bookmakers are usually priced at 115-120% at metropolitan meetings. It can be a lot higher for midweek venues. However, the fluctuations over the course of a Saturday at a metro venue can mean that tighter percentages are offered. Punters just need to be savvy and patient.

Betfair Exchange markets operate at 100% plus a commission charge that’s only applied to winners. Whilst some markets may take time to reach significant liquidity, it’s rare that you will get a better price on either the tote dividend or the corporate bookmaker fixed price.

It’s simply a case of margin.

The Betfair Starting Price (BSP) also beats the best tote by 11.7% in July 2018 on all thoroughbred racing in Australia. It’s incomparable to singular totes.


Conclusion

In our opinion with rebate rates, it doesn’t make sense to bet into singular TAB pools. The 14.25-25% margins are arguably the most expensive betting products in the market and there are too many better alternatives.

Punters could potentially improve their long term profit and loss if they understood the margin associated with every option. Best Tote is a leap forward from the singular option and then punters can evolve further by betting into 100% Betfair markets or taking the BSP.